In October 2018 researchers from Australia and the USA published the results of their study to assess the effect of fragranced consumer products, such as cleaning supplies, air fresheners, and personal care products, on autistic individuals aged between 18-65 years. Nationally representative population surveys involving 1,137 individuals from the USA, 1,098 from Australia and 1,100 from the UK revealed that 4% of adults have been diagnosed either with autism, an autism spectrum disorder, or both. 84% of these autistic individuals have reported experiencing adverse effects from fragranced products, including migraine headaches (43%), neurological problems (34%), respiratory problems (45%), and asthma attacks (36%). In particular, 63% of autistic individuals reported health problems from air fresheners or deodorizers, 58% from the scent of laundry products, 66% from being in a room cleaned with scented products, and 61% from being near someone wearing a fragranced product. Health problems can be severe, with 74% of these effects considered potentially disabling under legislation in each country. Furthermore, 59% have lost workdays or lost a job due to fragranced product exposure in the workplace. More than twice as many autistic as well as non-autistic individuals would prefer that workplaces, health care facilities, and health care professionals were fragrance-free rather than fragranced.
Steinemann A. Fragranced consumer products: effects on autistic adults in the United States, Australia, and United Kingdom. Air Qual Atmos Health. 2018;11(10):1137-1142